One of our preferred strategies when training athletes (and virtually every other client) involves minimizing rest intervals among and between sets. Maintaining an “up-tempo” pace — keeping the heart rate up during a workout — results in continuous improvement, regardless of fitness level.
There’s no need to be in the weight room all day. Most of our clients’ sessions are about 45-50 minutes in duration, and there’s very little “down” time. They get in, get their work done, and get out (and recover).
We’ve found that agonist-antagonist paired sets (working opposing muscle groups — pushing and pulling — e.g., the bench press and row) are a great way to maintain an aggressive workout tempo, improve workout efficiency, and reduce training time, while not compromising workout quality. This strategy strengthens and stabilizes joints, and helps prevent injury. Our athletes and clients perform the paired exercises, back-to-back, completing all sets with as little rest as they can manage, then rest for one minute before proceeding to the next pair of exercises.
We also vary our training programs, changing exercises weekly, while ensuring that each session is a total-body workout. Performing different exercises for similar muscle movements is important to keep workouts challenging.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another terrific way to maintain an efficient, up-tempo workout. HIIT involves alternating high- and low-intensity exercise over a pre-determined period of time. We like a ratio of 1:3, high-intensity to low-intensity, as a benchmark, depending on the athlete’s/client’s fitness level.